Sports commentators say a lot that is instantly forgotten and then, occassionally, utter words that become ingrained in our minds for ever. It may not endure in the same vein as “There’s some people on the pitch, they think it’s all over…” but one comment at the end of the England v Denmark semi-final this week caught my attention more than any other.
The standard of the leaders in the past couple of years in this country has been poor but look at that man there… he’s everything a leader should be: respectful, humble, tells the truth, genuine. He’s fantastic, Gareth Southgate.Gary Neville
Whatever your thoughts on many other leaders, there seems to be consensus on this matter. Most agree with Gary Neville that the current manager of the England men’s football team is a great guy and an excellent leader.
He’s not ‘showy’, he’s not egotistical, he seems to genuinely care. He speaks out clearly and thoughfully on important issues. He makes it about his team, not him.
In an interview after this historic win that takes England to their first major final since 1966, astonishingly, Southgate gives special mention to members of the original squad who were then excluded from the final group of 26 that were selected for the tournament. That is remarkable inclusivity and awareness in such a heady moment.
Lots more will be said and written about him, especially if he leads the team to victory in the final, and rightly so. Who wouldn’t want to work with this kind of leader? Clearly his current team do.
An assessment that really struck me is that Southgate is a “good” man, not a “nice” man. Normally the two look the same, but he’s not afraid to make tough calls (like substituting Grealish on and off within a match). He was respected for that decision because it was done honestly and for the right reasons.
Respect and honesty count for so much in leadership, and help make tough decisions without losing allies.
Great observations as ever Nick.